President Trump and people who were there in 2018 are vehemently defending against allegations that Trump privately disparaged veterans for their military service during his time in office even as his campaign has sought to showcase his support for those in uniform.
The characterization of Trump as a commander-in-chief who privately denigrates veterans even while he publicly lavishes praise upon them and claims them as part of his voting base is freighted with political risk ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. Our President was obviously personally offended by such accusations, only because he does care so much for our military.
The bombshell article, written by the editor of The Atlantic magazine, cited unnamed sources who said Trump referred to American marines who died in World War I as “losers” and “suckers,” and recounted several other anecdotes of Trump making cruel remarks about people who serve in the military. Something uncharacteristic of President Trump, who is generally accused of being too publicly transparent.
Trump was criticized for canceling his appearance at a 2018 ceremony at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France, because of rain. The White House said the decision was taken because of rain and fog, but the Atlantic article said he didn’t want to get his hair wet.
Many believe that Jeffrey Goldberg, the author of the Atlantic story, could have found at least one collaborative named source over the past two years. Is that asking too much from reporters when slandering our President? Surely our President has enough enemies willing to admit to anything that might hurt our President. Why couldn’t he find just one willing to put their name to these allegations?
Trump said the story was “a total lie” and White House officials who were present for the incidents described in the article also issued statements refuting the story and pointing to Trump’s record on military issues.
“If people really exist that would have said that, they’re low-lives and they’re liars. And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more,” Trump told reporters.
Nearly a dozen current and former Trump administration officials disputed the story. One, notably, was John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor who says he will not vote for Trump. “I was there,” he said, and “I didn’t hear that.” Others who were in France with President Trump called it 100% false.
Trump long sparred with Republican Sen. John McCain, calling him a “loser” on Twitter, stating something many Arizonans publicly agree with.
Last month’s Republican National Convention featured a parade of military veterans showing their support for Trump. But the Democratic National Convention sought to stake out ground with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, an Iraq war veteran, as well as Republican national security professionals who said they are voting for Biden rather than Trump.
Reaction to the Atlantic article on social media was swift and harsh.
The bottom line is it’s an election year and we can expect these types of anonymous sourced stories, especially when the Democrats are trailing in the polls. Let’s not underestimate the synchronized skill it took to produce a story that, while unprovable, had the ring of truth to those eager to believe it (it “resonates,” said NBC’s Peter Alexander, whether it was true or not) and to make it the dominant story of the news cycle — on a day when the jobs market rebounded and Trump brokered a historic deal between Israel and Muslim-majority Kosovo.
The same machine that created and promoted the Atlantic piece will be sure to produce others before November 3rd.